Summit Daily Serving Summit County, CO Fri, 03 Mar 2023 04:16:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Summit Daily 32 32 The ‘granddaddy of skijoring’: Leadville gallops into 75th running of historic event featuring skiers pulled by horses this weekend Fri, 03 Mar 2023 01:07:17 +0000 While walking or driving down Leadville’s historic Harrison Avenue it is easy to be transported back in time to the Wild West.

Many of the old buildings in downtown Leadville date back to between 1880 and 1905, so the only thing missing to complete such a scene might be horses running down Harrison Avenue. 

For the last 75 years, the town of Leadville has transformed into the high-elevation Wild West town that it once was thanks to the annual running of Leadville Ski Joring, which started in 1949. 

The event has continued to be an annual attraction, and this weekend Leadville will host visitors and competitors alike for the event, which runs from Saturday, March 4, to Sunday, March 5.

According to Leadville Ski Joring event organizers and longtime Leadville locals Duffy Counsell and Paul Copper, the event got its beginning when two friends — Tom Schroeder and “Mugs” Ossman — were working on brainstorming new event ideas to include in Leadville’s upcoming Crystal Carnival. As told from Copper’s recollection of his conversation with Schroeder, Ossman and Schroeder were reportedly sitting in a booth at the Golden Burro Cafe on Harrison Avenue in Leadville eating several pieces of pie and drinking a few cups of coffee but they were stumped while thinking of a new event for the upcoming Crystal Carnival. So he two friends decided to take a trip to Steamboat Springs’ own winter carnival in hopes to receive a spark of inspiration.

It was at Steamboat Springs’ winter carnival that Schroeder and Ossman were first introduced to the sport of skijoring, where a skier is pulled in tow behind a horse. The sport was exciting to Schroeder and Ossman, further spurring them to ramp up the event for Leadville’s Crystal Carnival.

With a need for speed and danger instilled in both Schroeder and Ossman, the two friends decided to make Leadville’s skijoring event much faster than the skijoring competition they witnessed in Steamboat. Using American quarter horses that Ossman was raising for speed, Schroeder is said to have took the first high-speed skijoring run in a snow-filled pasture at Ossman Ranch.

From that moment forward, the modern spin on the sport of skijoring was truly born and the Leadville Ski Joring event began a longstanding tradition in Leadville.

A skier is pulled behind a horse during the early days of the Leadville Ski Joring event. This weekend the event will celebrate its 75th anniversary after the event began in 1949.
Duffy Counsell/Courtesy photo

“It has been featured in several newspapers, magazines — and TV channels have done spots on it,” Counsell said of the allure of the event. “It is even featured in a Warren Miller film (‘Children of Snow’).”

Counsell went on to say that Wrangler has even signed over the last few years in order to provide a livestream of the event and will be working to produce a mini-documentary on the 75th running of the event this year. 

One thing that always seems to impress participants and spectators on a yearly basis is the high-speed intensity of the event. 

A skijoring team is made up of a horse, a horseback rider and a skier who barrel their way down Harrison Avenue while the skier trails the horse by holding onto a rope.

While the team blazes down the downtown core of Leadville, the skier must remain focused on making jumps, going through gates and collecting rings with their baton. The skier is timed through the course, but they will get assessed penalties if gates, rings or jumps were missed throughout the course.

“For the three athletes — the horse, the rider and the skier — it is an adrenaline rush that is unmatched for most people that have done it,” longtime competitor and race committee member Jason Dahl said. “I think it is contagious. You get as close to that rush without actually being one of the competitors. You can nearly reach out and touch a horse as it is riding by.”

Outside of the pure intensity of the event, the Leadville Ski Joring weekend is also known for uniting the Leadville community. Every year since its inception, the whole community comes together for both Leadville Ski Joring and the greater Crystal Carnival, and many local shops and restaurants host events throughout weekend.

Even the process of shutting down U.S. Highway 24 — the main thoroughfare through Leadville that includes Harrison Avenue — is considered a community event.

Counsell says the skijoring track is built by members of the community including Colorado Mountain College–Leadville students under the supervision of professor Jason Gusaas. Gusaas and his students begin work on the track around 4 a.m. on Friday and start dumping over 125 truckloads of snow over Harrison Avenue. 

The same volunteer crew then works to clear the track after the festivities so that by 6 p.m. on Sunday Harrison Avenue is fully transformed from a Wild West scene back to a modern thoroughfare, open again for vehicular traffic.

“If you were to visit Leadville after 6 p.m. on Sunday, there may not even be a trace that the Leadville 75th had ever occurred,” Counsell said. 

Spectators line Harrison Avenue in downtown Leadville for the 74th running of the Leadville Skijoring event on March 5th, 2022.
John Hanson/For Summit Daily News

Whether an individual is participating in the skijoring or watching from a lamp post alongside Harrison Avenue, the event truly feels like you have been transported back to the first running of the event.

“I think it very much feels like what I would imagine the Wild West to be — minus maybe the ski equipment and stop lights,” Dahl said. “There is just no better setting with the historic buildings and all the flags.”

This year’s 75th Leadville Ski Joring event will feature three divisions: open, sport and snowmobile. The action will kick off on Saturday, March 4, with the calcutta at 9:30 a.m., the national anthem at around 11:45 p.m. and the first horse charging down Harrison Avenue at high noon.

After the open and sport divisions on Saturday, kids of all ages can get a chance to try out skijoring for themselves by being pulled behind a snowmobile. Following the snowmobile division, awards will be given out at Leadville’s Elk Lodge at 123 W. 5th St. in Leadville.

Following the skijoring on Saturday, the party will continue at the Elks Lodge with Denver-based band Union Gray playing live music. 

The 75th running of Leadville Ski Joring will resume on Sunday, March 5, with the same approximate schedule as Saturday, minus the kids division. 

Spectators are encouraged to come out to the event for free but are encouraged to arrive early in order to claim their spot on Harrison Avenue. 

“We are trying to do everything a little bit cooler with it being our 75th,” Dahl said. “Leadville’s got a reputation for being the self-described ‘granddaddy of skijoring,’ so it’s one event that everyone puts on their bucket list. Everybody wants to make it to Leadville at least once, and they are rarely disappointed. We just want to continue with that tradition.”

No dogs or drones are allowed at the event. To find out more information about Leadville Ski Joring visit,

In order to celebrate this year’s Crystal Carnival, the town of Leadville will also be putting on a myriad of other events outside of skijoring including the Cooper Cup giant slalom race at Ski Cooper, a Leadville winter mountain bike series race, and the 10-kilometer colorado cup snowshoe race.

To see all the festivities being held during the Crystal Carnival, visit

Why did the chicken cross the road in Summit County? To protest Vail Resorts. Fri, 03 Mar 2023 00:13:29 +0000 Passersby on U.S. Highway 6 in Keystone may have caught an unusual sight early Thursday morning: A 6-foot-tall chicken wielding a sign about J-1 visa employees who’ve been “mistreated or lied to” by Vail Resorts. 

The person behind the beak, Avon resident Tim McMahon, has been demonstrating on or near Vail Resorts’ property with provocative signs for the past three years. In recent months, he’s opted to do so in a chicken costume to draw more attention to what he said is unfair treatment of employees and the community by Vail Resorts. 

“They’re coming in and Disney-fying everything, charging as much as possible, packing it up as much as possible,” said McMahon, a former Vail Resorts employee who had worked for Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek Resort. “None of the returns are sitting around locally.” 

In particular, McMahon said he was raising awareness of J-1 visas who he said have faced struggles securing housing and have seen their hours cut, making it difficult to contend with the area’s high cost of living. McMahon’s demonstration, his first in the Keystone area, comes after reporting by the Summit Daily News found that international student employees working for Keystone Resort on a J-1 visa received as little as six hours of work in a week. 

Employees told the Summit Daily that they felt the hours — and pay — they were receiving was inadequate and had caused financial stress. Employees claimed they paid between $3,500 and $5,000 to work on a J-1, which included money spent on their visa and flights to the U.S.. 

A copy of a job offer, provided to the Summit Daily by one J-1 employee, lists the job as having an average of 32 hours per week. Max Winter, a Keystone Resort spokesperson, stated in a past emails that the company “does not have employee contracts” with a “guarantee of any certain number of hours.”

McMahon said he also took issue with the company promoting available housing to J-1 employees, only for them to face a mad-dash to secure their own accommodations. According to the job offer provided to the Summit Daily, Vail Resorts — which is listed as the employer — provides “limited housing.” Winter, in a previous email, stated: “J-1 students are required to secure their own housing and affirm via their sponsor agency that they have housing before arriving.”

Winter, in an emailed response to claims raised by McMahon’s protest, stated: “This season, the average number of weekly hours worked for J-1 employees has been consistent with the targeted average for our Summit County resorts, and has exceeded the targeted average at our Eagle County resorts.”

“While it’s normal to flex employee hours based on the needs of the business — which fluctuate every year and throughout the season — we recognize that more team members are experiencing it this season because we are fully staffed,” Winter continued. “We’re grateful for all of our team members and the important role they play in bringing our resorts to life each and every day.”

McMahon said he does not feel Vail Resorts has taken accountability for the issues he said it has caused workers and the community, adding that his demonstrations are a way to spark community dialogue about the multibillion-dollar corporation.

McMahon’s venture into sign-based activism began during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shut down of ski resorts. A sign placed by McMahon at Beaver Creek in March 2020, which was captured on a snowstake camera, criticized the company for giving employees 10 days to vacate their housing and stated then-CEO Robert Katz “must go.” McMahon, in an April 2020 interview with the Vail Daily, said it was that incident that caused him to lose his job at the resort.

A screenshot from Beaver Creek’s snowstake camera depicting activity from March 27, 2020. A week before, Vail employees were told they could stay in employee housing until March 27 as the coronavirus began to spread.
Vail Daily News archive

Since then, McMahon has created and demonstrated with various signs taking aim at Vail Resorts’ practices. He currently faces two charges — a criminal tampering charge for his sign-posting at Beaver Creek and a trespassing charge for his demonstrations on Vail Resorts property earlier this season — according to reporting from the Vail Daily

McMahon said he would not be deterred by the legal challenges and called his Keystone protest the “first of many.” 

“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, you hate Vail Resorts,’” McMahon said. “I really don’t hate Vail Resorts. Vail Resorts is the largest ski company in North America. If they did positive things, they could completely change the whole ski industry. But instead, they’re just concerned about their shareholders and their money.”

Summit’s Chris Corning takes bronze in men’s snowboard slopestyle final at International Ski Federation’s World Championships Fri, 03 Mar 2023 00:09:45 +0000 While competitors had just wrapped up competition at the Winter Dew Tour at Copper Mountain Resort, Summit’s Chris Corning and Jake Canter were gearing up for the men’s snowboard slopestyle final at the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski 2023 World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia.

Corning and Canter both qualified for the final on Friday, Feb. 24. Corning qualified in the top spot in Heat 2 with a score of 80.60 while Canter qualified in the fourth spot in Heat 1 with a score of 71.21

In the men’s snowboard slopestyle final on Monday, Feb. 27, Corning had an extremely clean first run. Corning navigated the rails and jumps sections successfully while landing two frontside 1080s and a back side 1800 (five full rotations).

The string of tricks was enough for Corning to record a score of 82.18, which he failed to improve upon on his final run. Despite failing to go bigger on his second run, Corning’s first run score secured him a bronze medal at the 2023 world championships.

Corning’s third-place finish at the 2023 world championships marks his fourth world championship medal. Corning placed first at the 2019 world championships and silver and bronze at the 2017 world championships.

Canter began the slopestyle final with a fall on his first run, but he bounced back on his final run in order to score a respectable score.

Canter landed a switch backside 1260 and a backside 1620 to earn a score of 69.55. The score was enough for Canter to place 11th overall in his first world championships.

Mammoth Mountain’s Brock Crouch placed three spots ahead of Canter in eighth place.

Norway’s Marcus Kleveland took home gold with a score of 87.23, and Japan’s Ryoma Kimata placed second with a score of 83.45.

Other events

In the early morning hours on Wednesday, March 1, Dillon’s Chase Blackwell competed in the men’s snowboard halfpipe qualifiers.

Blackwell put together two, well-executed runs, but it was not enough to advance to Friday’s final. Blackwell finished with a top score of 69.75 to finish in 12th place overall, two places out of the final.

Corning was scheduled to compete again in the men’s snowboard big air qualifiers late on Wednesday, March 1, but he scratched himself from the competition due to a fall he sustained in practice.

Corning cited in an Instagram post that the damage to his head was limited, but the damage he sustained from the whiplash from the fall was enough for him to pull himself from the competition.

Corning stated in his Instagram post that he is happy that he is okay and is looking forward to future competitions.

Team Breckenridge Sports Club skiers place within top 50 at local Alpine ski races Thu, 02 Mar 2023 21:58:05 +0000 Over the weekend, Team Breckenridge Sports Club was once again busy competing in a series of Alpine skiing competitions. 

At the Youth Ski League giant slalom at Loveland Ski Area from Saturday, Feb. 25, to Sunday, Feb. 26, Team Breckenridge had six athletes compete, and all six athletes placed within the top 50 in their respective divisions.

In the boys giant slalom on Saturday, Feb. 25, Gabe Loomis placed 25th and 17th in the U10 boys giant slalom while U14 Team Breckenridge athlete Anders Larson had two finishes within the top 20. Larson placed 16th and 18th overall to lead the performances for the Team Breckenridge boys Alpine skiers.

In the girls giant slalom competition on Sunday, Feb. 26, Team Breckenridge had four girls compete against one another in the U10 division. All four girls placed within the top 45 with a trio of girls finishing within the top 25.

Sierra Buelow notched the highest finish for Team Breckenridge, finishing in second and third place overall. Brooklynn Beckerman had the second-most impressive finish for the U10 girls skiers, placing 14th in her first race and 15th in the second.

Spurred on by the performances of their teammates, Amelia Rzeszutek finished in 12th and 19th while Avery Dye placed 42nd and 43rd. 

Rounding out the performances for Team Breckenridge’s Alpine skiers for the weekend, Blanca Novoa competed in the U14 Alpine skiing qualifiers in Vail, and Kai Boyer raced in the International Ski Federation’s U18 giant slalom in Breckenridge. Novoa placed 15th in qualifiers and Boyer placed 14th in the giant slalom at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Outside of recent competitions, Team Breckenridge Sports Club announced that it will host the Junior Extreme Big Mountain Ski Competition in Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Contest Bowl on Peak 8 on Sunday, March 12.

The non-sanctioned event is for kids ages 6-16 years old who want to try out an entry-level big mountain competition in a loose and fun environment. The event is for skiers only.

Check-in for the event will take place at Ski Hill Grill on Peak 8 at 7 a.m. with competition starting at 10 a.m. The event will be a one-run format with a mandatory athlete meeting taking place at 8:15 a.m. and a venue inspection taking place at 9 a.m. via the 6 Chair lift.

The event will cost $61 plus tax for athletes 12 and under, $83 plus tax for athletes 13 years old and above and $90 plus tax for spectators.

The race entry fee does not include a lift ticket. Lift tickets can be purchased at the Peak 8 ticket window outside Ski Hill Grill. 

To find out more information on the event, visit To register for the event, visit

Details on Keystone’s summer event lineup, free concert series announced Thu, 02 Mar 2023 21:01:43 +0000 Keystone Neighbourhood Co. has formally announced Keystone’s summer event lineup for the summer.

The offerings include food, spirits, wine or beer, and music.

It will kick off with the Bacon and Bourbon Festival from June 24-25, followed by the Wine and Jazz Festival from July 15-16.

The longstanding August Bluegrass and Beer Festival will happen from Aug. 5-6 while the Labor Day Oktoberfest celebration will close out the festival season on Sept. 2.

In addition to the summer festival classics, the Keystone Neighbourhood Co. events team announced they are excited to bring back the River Run Village event series including the Align in the Pines Yoga gatherings and the Friday afternoon free Keystone concert series. 

Keystone will also host the Mountain Town Music Fest, which will feature an amazing headlining act alongside Salida Circus performances on Aug. 19.

Leading up to the Fourth of July holiday, Stars and Guitars will come to River Run Village on Saturday, July 1, with headliner Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue entertaining the holiday visitors and locals alike.

Tickets are now on sale for all of Keystone’s events. Event organizers recommend buying tickets in advance since last season every Saturday was sold out.

To purchase tickets, visit

Breckenridge Vipers return home for slate of games against Denver Leafs Thu, 02 Mar 2023 20:52:17 +0000 Following a two-game series against Idaho’s McCall Mountaineers this past weekend, Breckenridge’s semi-professional hockey team — the Breckenridge Vipers — will return to Stephen C. West Ice Arena for a slate of games against the Denver Leafs.

Thanks to a game-winning goal from Vipers’ assistant captain Andrew Monesi, the Vipers beat the McCall Mountaineers 9-8 in Idaho on Friday, Feb. 24, but fell to the Mountaineers the next evening, 11-9.

The Vipers head into their matchup against the Denver Leafs with a record of 6-8-0 overall and are prepared to face a talented Leafs squad made up hockey players who have played in more competitive leagues.

The Vipers will host the Leafs on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, with the puck drop taking place at 7:30 p.m. for both games.

Friday’s matchup will serve as Summit Youth Hockey night and will honor all the hockey players in the Summit Youth Hockey program who had great seasons. All Summit Youth Hockey parents will get half off the price of admission at the door.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at for $18 each. A two-game series bundle can also be purchased for $40 each. The bundle includes entry to both games and a Breckenridge Vipers rally scarf.

Summit High School speech and debate team returns to competition after two-year hiatus Thu, 02 Mar 2023 20:47:48 +0000 After a two-year hiatus, the Summit High School speech and debate team is competing again.

Despite being absent from competitions for two years, seven students traveled to Colorado Springs in order to compete in the state speech and debate competition on Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25.

Heidi Wuppermann, Anna Mitchell, Schuyler Clark Arens, Logan Ellison, Josie Burnett, Victoria Campbell and Lila Ellison all competed in the two-day state competition.

Burnett and Ellison competed exceptionally well as the duo made it deep into the competition and successfully advanced to the final rounds of the state competition.

Seniors Jacob Shriver and Stone Amsbaugh also competed on the team during this season, but they did not attend the state competition. The team was coached by Jennifer Arens, Maureen, O’Connor and Elaine Gort throughout the duration of the season.

Arens, O’Connor and Gort are hoping to build a strong, more competitive team over the next few years.

Garfield County commissioners hesitant on modular home production facility aimed at creating workforce, affordable housing Post Independent]]> Thu, 02 Mar 2023 18:00:00 +0000 GARFIELD COUNTY — Simply providing more affordable housing isn’t the end-all-be-all answer, Rifle’s representative on the Garfield County Commission said.

“We can’t build a house for everybody (for) free and give them money to live on — that is not going to work,” Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson said during the regular commissioners meeting on Monday. “We need, along with affordable housing, jobs where people are self-sufficient.”

Samson said this right before joining Commissioners Tom Jankovsky and John Martin in unanimously approving a $100,000 allocation to the Colorado River Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), a Parachute-based nonprofit that specializes in creating pathways between local students and careers in technical education. 

The positive sentimentality toward creating jobs locally diminished, however, when Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley later presented a plan to build a facility in Rifle that, according to the proposal, would both teach students how to construct houses while the facility itself manufactures modular homes aimed at creating affordable housing opportunities.

Local Habitat for Humanity President Gail Schwartz requested on Monday that the commissioners approve a letter of support for Habitat to go after a $500,000 grant through the United States Department of Agriculture. If received, the funds would support construction costs of the facility proposed for Rifle.

But the commission, after addressing their own personal concerns over the proposed facility, didn’t immediately vote on the letter and instead asked Schwartz to come back to the next commission meeting to gain approval. They also expressed hesitancy to provide funds for the project if they are requested later on.

“I wish them all the best,” Martin said. “But I don’t see investing county dollars into the program itself.”

The facility was originally proposed to Rifle City Council in late January. The building’s preliminary design is 30,000-50,000 square feet with 24-by-31-foot tall ceilings, county documents show. The facility would be built on a 7.11 acre parcel, which is an old uranium production site, just beside Rifle’s wastewater treatment center on U.S. Highway 6. Rifle calls the vacant site the Energy Innovation Center.

It would use recycled cold-formed metal from a recycling plant in Utah to build homes, and Schwartz said Habitat is already in a partnership with BOCES to run the facility.

If everything goes accordingly, the center is set to build more than 100 affordable modular housing units midway through 2024. Those units will be deed-restricted and be sold to buyers based on area median income (AMI).

“We’re struggling to be able to build homes for the cost of construction today and fulfill our commitment to selling to 80% AMI households,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said right now there is no housing manufacturing facility on the Western Slope geared toward nonprofit production. However, there are two production facilities on the Front Range. 

Eco Dwelling, which inspired Habitat’s newest proposal, opened a modular manufacturing facility just outside Rifle but it’s privately owned.

Schwartz said by localizing a new facility it will control the cost of construction while building a “workforce in our region.”

“Have you noticed what it’s like to get anything through Glenwood Canyon?” she said.

“We wanted to make sure that the county commissioners were aware of (this) because of the incredible economic benefit we think we’ll bring to the region,” she said, “as well as create an advanced manufacturing workforce in this partnership with education and construction.”

Commissioners responded by offering various reasons why they really don’t want the county to get involved. 

Martin compared affordable housing to places like Detroit and how, he argues, it exacerbates the crime rate. 

Samson, despite acknowledging that something needs to be done with affordable housing, said he’s old school and that “I don’t want somebody living on the other side of the wall, above me, below me.” 

Jankovsky worried that by giving any possible funds to a nonprofit to build a modular home manufacturing facility, it would compete directly with private companies, like Eco Dwelling.

“It goes back to private enterprise, the American capitalist free-trade market versus nonprofit,” he said. “Or, for that matter, government housing.”

Habitat for Humanity has most recently built 27 affordable units in Basalt, listed at $270,000-$370,000 apiece. It is currently working with Glenwood Springs to build 18 units and also currently building 20 affordable housing units in south Rifle, some listed as low as $185,000.

“I don’t have a problem with writing a letter and saying we are supportive of your goals and aspirations and so on,” Samson said. “But Tom makes a very good point there. When government gets involved in winners and losers, it creates a mess sometimes.

“I don’t really want to get into that mess.” 

Habitat hopes to start construction on the Rifle facility late this year or early 2024.

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How a photo turned into an iconic image for Steamboat Resort Steamboat Pilot & Today ]]> Thu, 02 Mar 2023 18:00:00 +0000 Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2013 and was updated in 2023 as Steamboat Resort remembered the taking of the 1972 photo as it celebrated its 60th anniversary. 

STEAMBOAT RESORT — Forty-one years have passed since a pair of Steamboat ski instructors who knew how to handle a quarterhorse as well as they could ski the moguls posed for a photograph that endures as the definitive symbol of this cowboy ski town.

Skiers across the world know it as the Steamboat barn poster, but it ought to be known as the More Barn poster after the longtime ranching family that gave permission for the photo shoot on their property along Pine Grove Road.

Jo Semotan remembers well that frigid February morning in 1972 when she and Rusty Chandler climbed into the saddle — he on a gelding and she on a frisky mare owned by Clarence Wheeler — and rode through unblemished snow that reached to the horses’ bellies.

It didn’t hurt that their path took them in front of the classic Western barn, with the slopes of Mount Werner as a backdrop. The poster that resulted has lured generations of skiers to Ski Town USA, and it has sold many cowboy hats.

“It was right after Winter Carnival. The shoot was scheduled for the break of dawn, and it just happened to have snowed 18 inches overnight,” Semotan said. “That was normal, but it also was a blessing. It was so deep that Rusty’s feet were dragging through the snow. We just had rubber galoshes over our cowboy boots, and it was cold.”

Mix Beauvais, director of sales for the ski area at the time, remembers best that photographer Gerald Brimacombe wouldn’t get a reshoot because once the horses had tracked the snow, it would be all over until the next big storm.

“It was a one-shot deal. We knew we had to get it the first time,” Beauvais said.

Brimacombe said almost 45 years as a contract photographer for Life magazine had prepared him to expect the unexpected and to make the most of what the weather and the setting offered. In this case, he and Minneapolis-based advertising agency Wilson Griak consulted closely on how the shot should look.

This iconic Steamboat poster was photographed in 1972.
Steamboat Resort/Courtesy

“We didn’t know about the snow and the lighting, but we went out there, and it was just spectacular,” Brimacombe recalled. “There was sort of a soft mist in the air, so it wasn’t harsh lighting, and the snow was really beautiful. Everyone just set up, I composed the image, and away we went.”

But did anyone recognize at the time how special the photograph would turn out to be?

According to those on the scene, they immediately sensed that it was a beautiful image, but no one could guess that it would turn into an iconic image that would live for a half-century or more.

“Everybody (else) was out of their mind,” Semotan remembered. “We didn’t think too much about it, except we had cold feet.”

Beauvais knew it would be a great image, but it wasn’t until he began carting the poster to ski shows all across the country that he fully grasped its impact.

“I always knew it was going to be long term,” Beauvais said. “There was nothing out there like it.”

An interesting historical note is that the photo opportunity at the barn was a last-minute addition to a multiday still and film shoot.

In those days, the ski area worked with Wilson Griak to create its annual campaign, which included a ski film complete with original music. In that era, of course, the crews were not shooting video but actual movie film.

In February 1972, Beauvais said, they were intent on shooting a stagecoach action scene when he and Steve Griak, along with Brimacombe, spied the pristine snow in front of the More Barn and visualized a pair of riders on horseback in the scene with Hart skis slung over their saddle pommels.

Chandler was a ski jumper from New Hampshire who, under the tutelage of Olympic skier Skeeter Werner, had become expert on Alpine boards and risen to the rank of ski school supervisor.

Semotan was an Elk River ranch kid who was an expert skier and was able to bring the agricultural and resort communities together.

“Every year, Mix Beauvais asked me to find a location and get cowboys and horses and stagecoaches because at that time, the relationship between the ski area and the ag area was not real close,” Semotan recalled.

So, it was Semotan who could approach Jerry More for permission to shoot on his property and line up the horses from Wheeler.

Beauvais knew he wanted Chandler for the barn shoot, but Semotan was struggling to find a cowgirl because the local ranch women were busy feeding cattle. Finally, Beauvais realized that Semotan was the obvious choice.

Did the photo shoot turn Semotan and Chandler into local celebrities?

“We took a terrible teasing from the ski school and our friends,” Semotan recalled. “They’d say, ‘What were you guys doing in that barn?’”

For the historical record, the two attractive horseback riders were “compatriots” but were never romantically involved.

Steamboat’s claim to being a Western ski town is legitimate — ranchers pioneered the first ski trails on Storm Mountain and ranchers drove the first grooming machines. But the barn poster was pure marketing genius.

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‘If we had a place to go, we’d be right there’: New urban camping ban kicks people out of pedestrian tunnel in Glenwood Springs Post Independent ]]> Thu, 02 Mar 2023 18:00:00 +0000 GLENWOOD SPRINGS — By the stroke of the all mighty pen, Ruben Sixkiller, Riley Phillips and their pitbull Knuckles can no longer call a long tunnel their home.

Some time around 1 a.m. on Feb. 19, these two homeless residents of Glenwood Springs awoke to the bright flashlights of police officers. Despite freezing temperatures, Sixkiller and Phillips were told they couldn’t stay where they were staying anymore, they said.

“It was below zero, man!” Sixkiller said last week.

About a handful of people experiencing homelessness have spent winter sheltering themselves from Colorado’s harsh elements inside the pedestrian tunnel underneath Colorado Highway 82, near the Sixth Street roundabout. That, or they try to see if there’s room available at the one homeless shelter in town, operated by Feed My Sheep. Typically, this means doing the overnight program on an air mattress in the basement of the Church of Christ in West Glenwood, which fits about 28-30 people. According to the rules, you can’t have drugs or alcohol on you, no violence is allowed and you can’t smoke outside between 10 p.m.-6 a.m.

When there’s no room or the shelter also refuses to take dogs, Sixkiller and Phillips sleep in sleeping bags underneath Highway 82. In addition to the confined space that helps block wind, they use heaters to ride out the night and charge whatever electronic devices they have using an electrical outlet beside the tunnel.

Riley Phillips packs his belongings on Feb. 21, 2023 after being told by police he can’t stay in a Glenwood Springs pedestrian tunnel anymore because the city passed a new prohibition on urban camping.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

But on Feb. 2, Glenwood Springs City Council amended its downtown camping prohibition zone to include the tunnel near the Sixth Street roundabout — the exact place where Sixkiller and Phillips wait out many frigid winter nights. Every council member — with the exception of Charlie Willman, who did not vote — voted in favor of the new restriction.

The city’s legal staff said that high volumes of traffic from Interstate 70, and bicyclists and other pedestrians having to use the road to circumvent people blocking the sidewalk have created unsafe conditions. The path itself goes right through the tunnel and eventually connects to Two Rivers Park.

City Council also pointed out, whether it’s the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities, there are already existing non-profit organizations that connect homeless people to shelter. 

“A lot of people here, this is a choice,” Council Member Tony Hershey said of the homeless in the tunnel. “It’s not just like finding some temporary shelter. This becomes a campsite, and it’s not safe, and it’s not safe for kids, and it’s not safe for women by themselves, and it’s not safe for me.

“Sometimes, I get scared through there.”

But not everyone agrees. Glenwood Springs resident Steven Smith showed empathy for the people in the tunnel during public comment.

“I’ve been through the tunnel plenty of times this winter where people are there. It first struck me as a little startling, but it also struck me as an excellent place to get some shelter,” he said. “The great majority of people there were deliberately making an effort to stay out of the thoroughfare to narrow their footprint.

“I guess I’m a little hesitant to throw out that shelter opportunity in weather like this completely.”

Walk through the park

Sixkiller and Phillips began staying near Two Rivers Park — occupied mostly by dog walkers, joggers and cyclists — after discovering that a makeshift camp they typically use was winterized and unlivable. The camp, they said, is on the outskirts of West Glenwood.

They weren’t always homeless, either. Sixkiller, 53, said he comes from Utah and worked a drill rig many years on the Piceance Basin. Things then grew tight, and he migrated to drill near Parachute. He also worked as a carpenter and currently survives on food stamps, panhandling and odd jobs, he said.

Ruben Sixkiller and his dog, Knuckles, in the pedestrian tunnel near the Sixth Street roundabout in Glenwood Springs on Feb. 21, 2023.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Phillips, 65, said he worked at Walmart before he started suffering from sciatica nerve pain/issues and couldn’t work. The two lived in a local motel before they accumulated about $6,000 in unpaid rent before getting kicked out.

“I’ve never had a pain that won’t go away,” Phillips said.

As for the dog, Sixkiller said he inherited Knuckles as a stray. An old friend of his had the dog but had to move because he, too, got kicked out by the city.

“His owner was leaving, and he was a pup,” Sixkiller said. “It wasn’t my choice.”

This is not the first time people like him and Phillips were told to vacate the tunnel. They’ve received citations in the past, they said. But most times, officers tell them to leave — which they do, during the day — then they come right back without too much hassle.

“We just tell them our situation, and they realize that most of the time,” Phillips said of the police. “Most of the time we’ll pick up like this, and then we’ll just come right back. But this time, they’re telling us they’re going to take our stuff.

“What am I supposed to do without my sleeping bag?”

Decades of homelessness

Glenwood Springs Police Lt. Bill Kimminau has been with the department for the past 38 years. There were homeless then, and there are homeless now — but it’s 10 times worse now, he said on Monday.

Many times, they spread out in the surrounding hills and along the Colorado River in their non-condoned camp in West Glenwood. He said, however, they eventually catch up to them and chase them out of their campsite.

Ruben Sixkiller, his dog Knuckles and Riley Phillips stand near Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs on Feb. 21, 2023.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

When it comes to bothering folks, the homeless are usually pretty tame. There have been occurrences of violence against other people, but they mostly fight amongst themselves, Kimminau said.

“A lot of them are drunk and have substance-abuse problems,” he said. “So they scare people, and we have a large bike theft problem with a lot of them.”

Kimminau said most people play by the rules after police tell them they have to move along. Sometimes they get written up a couple times per week because they don’t comply, and they come back, he said.

Speaking as to whether the new urban camping ban is going to help mitigate homelessness issues, he said, “Not really.” 

“I think if I had the answer to that, I’d win the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said, speaking on what would fully mitigate homelessness. “I mean, it’s one of those things. It’s a social issue, and we kind of get stuck in the middle trying to deal with it, and we only have so many things we can do.”

During February’s meeting with City Council, Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras pointed out that the city continues to incur expenses with enforcing and cleaning up the tunnel. This includes mitigating biohazards, like human waste.

An electrical outlet people staying in a tunnel underneath Colorado Highway 82 use to charge their items.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Meanwhile, if homeless people continue to receive citations in which they can’t pay, they eventually spend about three days in jail, where they get a bed and free meals.

“It’s kind of a revolving door,” Deras said. “We’re in a precarious situation where we try to offer them services, they choose not to take them and they’re in contempt, and they find themselves with a warrant, then they go into custody.”

That one time …

One day in February 2021, homeless man Sean D. Hurt began cursing loudly and causing a disturbance inside downtown Glenwood Springs business Chocolate Moose. 

After owner Evan Miller asked him to leave, Hurt responded by punching Miller in the face.

On Monday, Miller told the Post Independent that he hasn’t really noticed a big difference in the homelessness issues in Glenwood Springs since then.

Part of a crinkled United States flag sits in a shopping cart near Grand Avenue on Feb. 21, 2023. The cart belongs to someone who uses a nearby pedestrian tunnel as shelter at night.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

“I’ve gotten to a point where I know those guys by name there,” he said of the people in the tunnel. “It’s the same crowd as it has been for a while. That said, I haven’t seen any old faces disappear.”

But he said there’s not a ton of guys in the tunnel right now, and fortunately, they’re all non-violent people. He also said the new ordinance “makes sense” but it’s “not going to fix everything.

“The police know this, too,” he said. “The guys that are down there right now — at least in my experience — they’re pretty mellow guys.”

It’s almost spring

Sixkiller and Phillips were cleaning up their stuff in the tunnel during a balmy Feb. 21 morning. Shopping carts, sleeping bags and diesel heaters were scattered on the hard concrete.

As Sixkiller pet the head of his dog Knuckles, he spoke of how the shelter doesn’t have enough room all time, and that the city’s new ordinance is only making matters worse.

“If the shelter doesn’t have enough beds, ease up on the ordinance a little bit, give us a break,” he said. “Where else are we supposed to go? We’re residents here.”

It’s almost spring time, he mentioned. Once it gets warmer, he’ll likely migrate to the makeshift camp on the outskirts of town. He told the police this as he was getting kicked out of the tunnel for the umpteenth time. 

“’We only have one month left,’ I told them, and ‘We’ll be out of here,’” he said. “If we had a place to go, we’d be right there.”

This story is from

PHOTOS: Dogs in costume parade down Frisco’s Main Street for Mardi Gras Thu, 02 Mar 2023 17:49:08 +0000 If you saw a lot of dogs dressed up in purple, green and gold walking down Frisco’s Main Street, Saturday, Feb. 25, you were witnessing the Mardi Gras 4Paws event benefitting Hope for Animals.

Inspired by the Mystic Krewe of Barkus Parade in New Orleans, the event raised funds for Hope for Animals, which helps abandoned, lost and suffering animals through rescue, shelter and public education.

Guest opinion: Land swap means more open space for Summit and Grand counties Thu, 02 Mar 2023 17:01:00 +0000 When so much around us is constantly changing, we’re asked to consider what we should be keeping the same. To us, it always comes back to open space. Our landscape is one of the  most beautiful in the country, and through the years, our communities have made countless efforts to preserve and protect these truly unique and scenic natural areas.  

It’s not just for environmental reasons — though those are very important too. Open space is a significant driver of economic activity, offering locals and tourists alike hiking, boating, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. Expanding open space is therefore a constant priority for the future success of our counties. 

We’re excited to share a milestone victory toward that goal. After over a decade of cooperative work, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved the Blue Valley Land Exchange, a deal netting more publicly-accessible land and millions of dollars worth of recreational and environmental improvements for the Lower Blue Valley — at no cost to taxpayers.  

Under the agreement, residents of Grand and Summit counties will soon enjoy two new recreation areas — the Confluence Recreation Area at the junction of the Blue and Colorado rivers and the Green Mountain Recreation Area near the reservoir — with hundreds of acres of open space, miles of walking trails and riverfront, picnic and rest areas, permanent takeouts for boaters, improved access roads and parking, conservation projects and more. 

Starting with fishing, we know anglers like their familiar spots where they’re sure they can catch that next trophy trout. But as anyone who’s fished the Blue River along Colorado Highway 9 knows, much of the walk-in access is neither safe nor doable for many people. With a little adaptation, this exchange will provide much easier access to excellent fishing spots — excellent because with the deal, there will be nearly a mile of Gold Medal fishery restoration at the confluence and 1.5 miles of new access to Gold Medal fishing in Green Mountain Canyon. Floaters will still be able to get to those previously public areas. The Blue River will also be opened up to anglers with disabilities, with several wheelchair-accessible fishing platforms built at the Confluence Recreation Area. These improvements will keep the sport attractive for both the most  experienced angler and the kid casting their first line.

Other new recreational benefits on the Blue River include two rest stops and permanent takeouts for floaters at Spring Creek Bridge and the Confluence Recreation Area, making kayaking, boating and other floating much more predictable. The Confluence Recreation Area will also have picnic tables and restrooms, perfect for family outings. 

Hikers and hunters will be pleased too with the gains in the Lower Blue River Valley. One of the biggest wins out of the exchange is that both Green Mountain and San Toy Mountain are entering the public domain, forever preserving their natural beauty from development. All told, there will be a net gain of over 1,100 acres of upland lands suitable for hiking, hunting and wildlife viewing. Several miles of walking trail, improved roads and two new parking areas will be constructed to ensure those benefits are fully realized. 

This deal was the result of many people working together to get the best outcome for our communities. Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper helped advocate for us in Washington. Meanwhile, local environmental and outdoors groups like Friends of the Lower Blue River, Colorado Whitewater and American Whitewater Associations, the Colorado Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and Blue Valley Sportsmen’s Club have been essential in setting our priorities. 

All of the recreational and environmental improvements are being fully funded by Blue Valley Ranch, which is also establishing an endowment for long-term maintenance of the recreational facilities. The Ranch has been a neighbor to our communities for nearly 30 years and has a great track record of environmental stewardship. Even without the added investments, projected to be upwards of $3 million, the BLM determined the value of the land swapped was in the public interest at face value. 

This exchange protects an incredible amount of our most cherished open spaces for future generations — so our kids can continue seeing these lands as they are now, and eventually their kids will too. 

Elisabeth Lawrence is a Summit County Commissioner. Randy George is a Grand County Commissioner.

Elisabeth Lawrence
Randy George
Randy George
Letter to the Editor: The commissioners landed a gut punch to short-term rental hosts Summit County]]> Thu, 02 Mar 2023 03:36:47 +0000 The Summit Board of County Commissioners recently landed its worst punch ever to 1,400+ Summit hosts. The majority pleaded and even cried with comments while three commissioners laughed, ate and looked completely bored. They knew these regulations on short-term rentals were passing. In doing so, they robbed these hosts of thousands of dollars of their yearly income.

Short-term rentals have been blamed for the lack of employee housing, affordable housing and ruining the residential neighborhoods without the facts. This time they stung many retired residents, families hoping to retire here, some holding on after a partner’s passing, single parents and young families just hoping to stay.  Commissioners may have actually increased the affordable housing crisis with these regulations.

Last year the planning department was busy with surveys and town meetings calculating how to kill the short-term rentals business. Then Lawrence found a news broadcast from Palm Springs. They threw up their hands, closed the gathered files and claimed this as brilliant!

If only they had researched the Palms Springs government website, they would have discovered valuable information. Their night caps don’t start until 2026, the 26-night cap was for new permittees, existing hosts capped at 32 bookings plus 4 during high season. House share hosts were exempt. They had years of data on hotline calls with results, an attractive brochure designed for short-term rentals to explain the rules, a monthly newsletter that keeps all the hosts informed and a citizen engagement program. Now that is a great million-dollar investment! 

Commissioners passed these rules without a way to enforce it. If they had only researched that government’s site instead of likely watching a two-minute TV broadcast, they would be inspired, educated commissioners with all the facts to make smart decisions. 

Upper Blue Elementary one of 11 schools in Colorado targeted by ‘swatting’ call Wednesday Thu, 02 Mar 2023 02:48:08 +0000 Upper Blue Elementary in Breckenridge initiated lockdown protocols Wednesday morning, March 1, after receiving a phone call related to the safety of the school that law enforcement later determined to be unfounded, according to the Summit School District.

Superintendent Tony Byrd notified parents of the lockdown in an email that described the threat as a “swatting” call. Breckenridge Police responded immediately, secured the area and checked the building for any viable threat but found none, Byrd said. He added that the school was one of several across the state to receive such a call.

“Swatting,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said, is a term describing an incident where someone intentionally provokes a law enforcement response by making a fake threat that turns out to not be a real emergency.

Breckenridge Police Chief James Baird said in an email the call came into the Summit County 911 Center a few minutes after 9:50 a.m., prompting the school to lockdown, “out of an abundance of caution.”

“We recognize these ‘false alarm’ calls can cause significant anxiety for students, staff and family members,” Baird said in the email. “This is obviously exacerbated when the children are so young such as in an elementary school.”

For this reason, Baird said, after the lockdown, school leadership assembled the students so Breckenridge Police Department staff could meet with them and reinforce that they were safe and had done a good job following protocols. Police cleared the scene around 11:30 a.m., and the FBI has been notified of the incident and continues to investigate, he said.

At least 10 other schools in Colorado reported receiving similar “swatting” calls on Wednesday, according to the Colorado Information Analysis Center, a branch of the state Department of Public Safety.

FitzSimons said in a phone interview that in addition to Sheriff’s Deputies responding to Upper Blue Elementary, he had law enforcement officers responding to other schools in the county “to make sure it wasn’t a decoy call.”

Noting that the Summit School District had experienced another “swatting” call just weeks earlier, FitzSimons said these types of calls have become more common in recent years as the internet and technology has become more sophisticated.

These “swatting” incidents don’t just happen at schools, FitzSimons said, and emphasized anyone who receives such a threat — whether they believe it is legitimate or not — at their home or business should report it to law enforcement immediately. He added that parents should talk to their students about these incidents and remind them not to become complacent just because “swatting” is becoming more common.

Just because the threat made in a “swatting” call isn’t real, FitzSimons said, doesn’t mean the calls aren’t dangerous — especially when they target schools.

“What it’s doing is it’s diverting resources from what could be a real-life emergency (elsewhere) in the county,” he said. “A situation like this would take priority over anything.”

While law enforcement makes every effort to track down where these calls originate from, FitzSimons said, this can often be a difficult process since the calls are often placed using an app or a virtual private network, commonly referred to as a VPN. The technology being used causes the call to bounce off servers all over the world, he said, noting that law enforcement has traced the Feb. 6 “swatting” call to a location outside of the United States — though it still isn’t clear that that is actually where it originated.

“People just need to be aware (of swatting) in general,” FitzSimons said. “You should treat all of these as real.”

Indictment outlines alleged inaction of Summit School District employees responding to sexual assault claims Thu, 02 Mar 2023 02:37:50 +0000 Editor’s note: This story includes descriptions related to allegations of sexual assault.

The first student alleging inappropriate behavior by a Summit Middle School physical education teacher reportedly came forward in late September 2021. But court documents state that it wasn’t until a month later — after six more students came forward with allegations against Leonard Grams — that Summit School District employees reported the allegations to police.

Last November, Grams pleaded not guilty to five charges of sexual assault on a child, a Class 4 felony, and three charges of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, a Class 3 felony. The school district placed Grams on administrative leave Oct. 18, 2021. He submitted his resignation Aug. 31, 2022.

Summit Middle School teacher Leonard Grams, 61, was arrested Aug. 9 on several charges of sexual assault of a child.
Summit County Sheriff’s Office/Courtesy photo

While investigating the claims, one of the school district employees allegedly said they wanted to make sure Grams was “absolutely protected,” while another employee reportedly said if students tried again to raise allegations they would be “nipped pretty quick,” according to a grand jury indictment filed with the 5th Judicial District Court on Feb. 24. That indictment led prosecutors to file charges against three Summit School District employees and one former employee. Each defendant was charged with a single count of failure to report child abuse, a Class 3 misdemeanor.

The indictment of district employees comes about six months after police arrested Grams on Aug. 9, 2022. Summit Middle School Principal Greg Guevara, Summit Middle School counselor Maureen Flannagan, human resources specialist Amanda Southern and former human resources director Grant Schmidt are each facing a charge.

After the first student told Flannagan that Grams touched her breast during a “high five frenzy” in one of his classes, Flannagan had the student write a statement about what happened and provided that statement to Guevara on Sept. 30, 2021, according to the indictment.

Guevara initiated an inquiry, the court document states, and spoke with the student and Grams, who denied the allegations, as well as the student’s parents. According to the indictment, it was recommended to Guevara that the student be forensically interviewed, but the principal reportedly disregarded that recommendation and closed the investigation as inconclusive.

By mid-October of that year, two additional students had come forward, according to court records. One student alleged Grams lowered his hand to rest on her butt while spotting her on a climbing wall and touched her inappropriately again while checking her safety harness, according to the court document. The indictment states the student said Grams touched her “everywhere but the harness.”

The school district’s human resources department initiated an investigation — led by Schmidt and Southern — into the two additional students’ allegations on Oct. 18, 2021, according to the indictment. 

Grams continued to deny the allegations, and Schmidt and Southern did not believe any of the three students’ claims were credible, the court document states. After two days, the human resources department reportedly closed the investigation and found that Grams did nothing inappropriate.

According to the indictment, in their final conversation with Grams, Schmidt and Southern said the only reason they had opened an investigation is because it was the second time students had come forth with allegations.

Schmidt reportedly told Grams that one of his concerns is that once allegations become public, a person is assumed guilty.

“That’s a part of why we made the decision as we got into it: we don’t call the police right away, unless it’s so doggone obvious,” Schmidt said, according to the indictment. He also added, the document states, that if students raised allegations again they would be “nipped pretty quickly” and that he “can’t speak to immature children and their decision making skills.”

In the same conversation, Southern reportedly said she has shared experiences of “being accused of something that didn’t happen,” and told Grams they wanted to make sure he was “absolutely protected.”

Then, between Oct. 17 and Oct. 23, 2021, an additional three students came forward with allegations against Grams, according to the indictment. Guevara spoke to these students, the document states, one of whom alleged Grams would regularly look at her chest, play with her hair, rub her back and compliment her appearance, making her feel uncomfortable. Another student reportedly claimed Grams grazed his hand against her butt on one occasion and then again later while she was doing push-ups.

On Oct. 23 or Oct. 24, 2021, a seventh student alleging inappropriate behavior by Grams came forward to Flannagan, the indictment states. Finally, on Oct. 27, 2021, the school contacted law enforcement about the allegations, according to the court document.

Law enforcement reportedly requested a copy of Grams’ personnel file and found it did not include a copy of his letter of administrative leave or any information about the allegations by any of the seven students or the investigations into the claims. The indictment states Schmidt and Southern made conscious decisions not to contact law enforcement and “to protect and assist Mr. Grams by not properly documenting the allegations.”

At the time of the allegations, according to the court document, Guevara, Flannagan, Schmidt and Southern were all mandatory reporters who are required by law to immediately report claims of abuse to the Department of Human Services, law enforcement or the state’s child abuse reporting hotline.

Summit School District Superintendent Tony Byrd said in a letter to parents Tuesday that Guevara and Flannagan have been placed on administrative leave until further notice and added that the school is “making plans to support students” on Flannagan’s caseload.

Andrea Ridder, a spokesperson for the Summit School District, declined to answer an emailed question Wednesday about whether Southern had been placed on administrative leave as well.

“We are unable to comment on personnel matters as it pertains to Amanda Southern,” Ridder said.

Grams is scheduled to appear in Summit County District Court on Thursday for a motions hearing. His trial is scheduled to begin April 23. 

The first court date related to the case involving charges of failure to report child abuse is scheduled for April 19, according to the news release from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announcing those charges.

The District Attorney’s Office and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office are asking any other potential victims or anyone with information related to these cases to contact Detective Sergeant Mark Gafari at 970-423-8960, according to the release.

‘This is unprecedented’: Avian flu has killed 12,000 birds in Colorado The Denver Post ]]> Wed, 01 Mar 2023 18:00:00 +0000 The highly pathogenic avian influenza — or bird flu — sweeping across the globe has killed more than 12,000 wild birds in Colorado and the virus is jumping into mammal populations as well, state wildlife officials say.

And it’s unclear when the spread might relent.

“This is unprecedented,” Kristy Pabilonia, director of clinical diagnostics for Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences, said. “The fact that it’s now so distributed with our wild bird populations, there are a lot of questions about the best next steps.”

That death toll is likely a “significant underestimate” of the true number of Colorado’s wild birds killed by the virus, Travis Duncan, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said.

The number of birds in commercial flocks — largely chickens and turkeys — killed by the virus is far higher, which has led, in part, to an egg shortage and price increase across the country.

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How a new state office could help to solve Colorado’s housing crisis Colorado Newsline ]]> Wed, 01 Mar 2023 18:00:00 +0000 Colorado has a housing problem. As a whole, the state is short 127,000 housing units, the seventh worst gap in the nation, according to a recent analysis.

Gov. Jared Polis and lawmakers know this. In order to address state housing needs, they’ve had to get creative with solutions, and it starts with public-private partnerships.

Public-private partnerships are long-term agreements between the government and a private partner — in this case, housing contractors — where the private partner delivers public services using funds from the government. Essentially, the state will provide contractors with the land it owns to build more housing.

In Colorado, these agreements are sorted through the Public-Private Partnership Collaboration Unit, or P3, an office within the Department of Personnel and Administration.

“What we’ve been trying to do is get the office up and running — hire a director, put into place the office’s goals and objectives and identifying properties that might fall under the scope of that statute,” said P3 communications manager Doug Platt, referring to the law that created the office last year.

P3’s main objective is to plan, operate and implement private-public partnerships throughout the state. The office is still in its infancy. The first test of its ability to broker transactions is in the Burnham Yard Transportation Study. Begun in October 2022, the study seeks to improve freight and passenger rail through the area west of the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Denver and will recommend track layout alternatives while maintaining operations for Front Range Passenger Rail. P3 is looking for a vendor representative for the project.

As for housing, there are 55 vacant state-owned parcels across Colorado that could be used for affordable housing development. Ranging from as little as two acres to more than 150 acres, most parcels lie in the Front Range with other available lots located as far south as Trinidad and as far west as Grand Junction. P3 has the jurisdiction to have developers build on this land, but there are caveats.

“I can’t say that all of them will be subjected to P3 development,” said Platt. “There’ll be a number of components as to whether or not it’s developable (and) for what purposes.”

Such components include the land size and expectations of local jurisdictions, as well as stakeholders’ influence on the project.

But before any of that happens and in order for P3 to pull its weight in addressing housing issues, it needs more funding, which the Colorado Legislature has begun to address.

One step at a time

In January, Senate Bill 23-1, which would transfer $13 million to the Unused State-Owned Real Property Fund to support public-private partnerships, passed in the Local Government & Housing Committee. 

The bill specifically gives power to P3 to broker real-estate transactions between the state and developers. Should SB-1 pass both chambers of the Legislature and be signed by the governor, the real work would begin on providing more housing for Coloradans.

Proponents of the bill, such as Bruce Eisenhauer, the legislative liaison of the Department of Local Affairs, have used Denver’s Capitol Square Apartments as an example of what public-private partnerships can do to increase housing units. 

Located on the corner of 13th Avenue and Sherman Street, the project created 103 new homes for people earning between 30% to 80% of the area median income. The $33.9 million project garnered funding from a variety of groups, including over $1.5 million from the City and County of Denver, and other donations from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority.

“This is just an example of what can be done using this model,” Eisenhauer said in testimony to a committee in January.

Should the bill pass, the $13 million would serve as a soft start to build a few projects and test the overall concept. Where and when these places will be developed is currently unknown.

Polis made housing a top priority in his State of the State address in January. He argued that meeting the state’s housing needs “means we need more flexible zoning to allow more housing, streamlined regulations that cut through red tape, expedited approval processes for projects like modular housing, sustainable development and more building in transit-oriented communities.”

Cities and counties traditionally set their own land use policies, meaning that the promises the governor made in his address could be hard to keep. But P3 is attempting to lead these sorts of discussions, starting with facilitating collaboration between the state’s public entities and private partners while enabling access to private capital.

In addition to Polis’ ambitions, candidates in the Denver mayoral race have had to answer for their plans for increasing affordable housing, most recently at a forum led by unhoused Denverites.

As for whether potential housing will be sectioned off to workforce housing, which targets middle-income workers earning between 60% to 120% of the area median income on average, or affordable housing, which targets workers earning 60% or less of the median income on average, Platt said the office is keeping its options open but that it’s still too early to tell, depending on the vacant parcel and local expectations.

“I don’t think that limits us but as we move through the projects and proposals, that will become more evident,” he said.

For now, P3 continues to research which properties could be developed as affordable housing and find contractors who are able to complete the job.

“We’re taking it one step at a time,” Platt said. “As we develop the program and we identify more constituents and all those components that are going into these developments — those will make themselves apparent as we move through.”

This story is from ColoradoNewsline.

This iconic Colorado mountaintop tunnel is turning 50 9News]]> Wed, 01 Mar 2023 18:00:00 +0000 CLEAR CREEK COUNTY — When the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels opened on March 8, 1973, they finally linked Interstate 70 from east to west, shorting the drive between Denver and the mountains of western Colorado.

The Eisenhower Tunnel is a marvel of construction and of innovation.

The tunnel was cut under the Loveland Ski Area and through the Continental Divide and the Loveland Fault, an extremely difficult job at the time.

Those challenges meant the work took longer and cost more than expected. Construction lasted five years and the first tunnel cost $117 million, which would be around one billion dollars in 2023.

Once it opened, the Eisenhower Tunnel changed Colorado by kickstarting the state’s tourism.

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Obituary: Bruce Campbell Wed, 01 Mar 2023 02:32:05 +0000 July 21, 1946 – February 17, 2023

Longtime Summit County local Bruce A Campbell of Around the Clock Lock passed suddenly on Feb 17th, 2023 at age 76. He is survived by his wife Ruth McMullan-Campbell, brothers Lee Campbell, Tom(Judy) Becker, Phil(Linda) Becker, sister Suzy(Dave)Schuba, and their families. He was predeceased by his trusty canine sidekick Dillon (a SC Pound Puppy). Bruce was a veteran and a larger-than-life man who lived each day to the fullest. Bruce was very proud of Colorado and Summit County and was an unofficial “High Country Goodwill Ambassador” & tour guide to the area. While driving around rescuing locals and tourists who had lost their keys he would make traffic reports as “Bad News Bruce” on the Dillon radio station. Bruce & Ruth were sought-after volunteers at Hot Air Balloon events, the Oshkosh AirVenture, and country music festivals. They had many road adventures with their 1970 Airstream travel trailer both in the US & Canada. He will be greatly missed by many friends and family. A celebration of his life will happen in Summit County, CO later this year. Online condolences may be sent to In lieu of flowers please consider donations in Bruce’s memory to:
Online-Summit County Animal Shelter-check/cash -PO Box 5225 Frisco, CO 80443 (970)668-3230
Check- Friends of Summit County Rescue Group
PO Box 1794
Breckenridge, CO 80424

I-70 reopens at Vail Pass; cow cleared from roadway Vail Daily]]> Wed, 01 Mar 2023 02:28:51 +0000 Snowy conditions on Vail Pass closed Interstate 70 eastbound at least twice on Tuesday, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

The morning closure began at approximately 7:15 a.m. and lasted roughly 3 hours before reopening for 2 hours and closing again in the afternoon. During the afternoon closure, a single head of cattle which appeared to be a cow with a tag in its ear was spotted running down the closed lanes of the Interstate.

Vail local Casey Aberth was headed westbound when she saw the animal trotting toward her vehicle. She was between the East Vail exit (mile marker 180) and the Main Vail exit (mile marker 176) when she saw a black creature running toward her.

“I thought it might be a bear, but then I realized it was either a cow or a bull — some kind of black livestock — and I got scared that I’d get a little further and see a livestock truck tipped over or something, but that wasn’t the case,” she said. “You could see it had a tag in its ear.”

The animal was captured shortly thereafter.

The snowy conditions caused delays in other areas of the state, as well. Numerous flights were delayed out of Denver International Airport in the morning, and on Vail Mountain, Orient Express (No. 21) and Teacup Express (No. 36) were late to begin operation for the day, opening at about 10:30 a.m.

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